The Car Chase
When we wrote the original version of the story we realised by page 470 that the book was just too long; and we had not yet reached the end of the story! A lot of editing had to be done.
In the original story Donna flew to the UK on a commercial flight and was picked up at Gatwick Airport by Richard. We based this part of the story on our experiences when Shelia came to the UK in December 1997.
Richard chose to take the 'scenic route' rather than the motorway north since he was concerned that Donna was being followed. They stopped for breakfast at a Hotel in a peninsular in Rutland Water:
This is nothing. We Brits like a hearty breakfast", He picked up his knife and fork and started tucking into his meal.
Donna, unaware of the custom, picked up her fork, leaving the knife by the plate and started eating. Richard looked her and smiled.
"What did I do wrong now?" Donna asked.
"Nothing really - I just noticed you left your knife on the table."
"Back in the States, we only use a knife for two things - cutting meat and slitting throats." Donna said chuckling softly.
Richard gave her a funny look, reached over and slid the knife out of her reach.
and on leaving Richard saw the tail:
It now seemed his paranoia had been justified and his stomach started to curdle as he saw the parked car start to follow them down the road. "Damn" he said in a muffled alarmed tone and leaned forward, tugging on Donna's seat belt to make sure it was secure. "Buckle up tight and hang on - I'm going to do some fast motoring to make up a little lost time!"
Before she could respond, Richard pushed down the accelerator; causing the car to nearly spin round in the road and shot off at a rate of knots. The car following, bounded to life and did a half doughnut in the middle of the road burning rubber and making a loud screeching noise, after them. Richard pushed down on the accelerator hard. He began to weave and slide around the bends in the tangled roads of the village with exact precision. Donna, growing a little concerned looked across at him and back to the windscreen. Although it was obvious to her that Richard was a skilled driver and she felt quiet confident with him, she grew a little perturbed as they passed a sign that read 50 mph, doing almost ninety.
"Richard - slow down! I want to get to Newcastle in one piece - without loosing my breakfast in the process."
"I will sweetheart - just as soon as I lose this car that's been tailing us" he said, not taking his eyes off the road as he slid around another bend. He pushed hard on the accelerator to regain speed. On a straight part of the road, as the car was nearing ninety again, a flashing blue light reflected in his rear-view mirror.
"Oh shit" he said, and slowed the car, pulling into the verge.
A policeman stepped out of the car behind, putting on his hat. He reached back into his car for his ticket book and slowly walked up to the driver's side of Richard's black Mercedes. He tapped gently on the glass. Richard drew in a deep breath and slowly rolled down the window and smiled submissively at the policeman. The policeman retained his somber face and said in very calm, authoritative tone, "Going a little fast for these kinds of roads, aren't we Sir?"
Donna looked out her window at some sheep, grazing in a green pasture. "This should be nice," she said in a sarcastic tone.
Richard cleared his throat and nervously began his explanation. "Well, strange as this may sound officer - I'm really quiet relieved to see you."
"Really?" the officer said, raising his eye brows in question. "How's that?"
"Well, there was a car following me earlier on, before I pulled it at the hotel and when I drove back out and saw your car - I just assumed it was the tail. In my line of work, sometimes the competition can get a little harsh and I was afraid that you might not have our best interests at heart, so…"
The policeman held his hand up to stop what was apparently going to be a long, drawn out explanation. Richard stopped talking and waited. Donna impatiently drummed her fingers on the side glass.
"Well - although it's only ten o'clock, and this is quiet probably the best excuse I'm likely to get all day - I'm not sure if I believe you or not. Is this your car?"
"Would you mind telling me your registration number?"
Richard started calling off the numbers on his license plate, "RT0…ah…drat!" His mind drew and almost a complete blank and the policeman gave him a suspicious look, raising his left eyebrow again.
Richard tapped his forehead with the palm of his hand, "I know it, I know, just let me think a second." He closed his eyes and concentrated hard; minutely unsure he started again. "RT06…RT06D…no wait…RT06L…" Suddenly it flashed through his mind, "RT06KNA" he almost shouted, sighed and smiled at the officer.
The officer looked down at the paper in his hand to make sure Richard had given him the right number.
"Well, you've managed to get that right but I'm still not entirely convinced. If you would just step out of the car, please?"
Richard looked across at Donna who was looking out the window, showing no signs of recognition to the situation. He got out of the car and Donna watched in the rear view mirror as the cop opened the rear door of his car, appearing to Donna’s eye to place Richard under arrest.
"Now what am I going to do?" she said to herself. "Right - that's it - I've got to do something." She took her mobile from her back pocket and flipped it open in hopes of calling Gary - low battery. "Great - just flipping great! What else could go wrong? First I get this weird message from God knows who while I'm in the airport in Houston - Gary sends his childishly encrypted email as an excuse to not come and pick me up - He sends a perfect stranger who drives like a bat out of Hades - gets arrested by the police for speeding - leaves me stranded out here in the middle of nowhere and I can't even call for help because my blasted battery is dead - what's next - a tornado?"
Police Sergeant Grey, escorted Richard to his unmarked car and seated him in the back. He walked up and got in the drivers seat, turned in his seat so he could see Richard's face.
"OK sir, let's hear the rest of your, very unique and unusual reason for driving at such excessive speeds on these narrow roads at this time of day."
"His partner, PC Davis, tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention." He waved his hand and brushed him off. "Not now Jim."
Davis, the junior partner, bit his tongue and turned around in his seat, listening to the rest of the conversation.
Richard began, "I work for a Genetics Research Complex in Newcastle. We've been doing some studies in a very sensitive area which are making a lot of people nervous, especially our cross Atlantic competition."
"My boss, Mr Gary Browne sent me down to Gatwick to pick up his cousin, who's become a member of our research team. She's American, she just arrived today and when I thought somebody was tailing me, I was afraid for her as well as myself. I just wanted to put some distance between me and them so I could dart down one of the side roads until they passed. Then I was…"
The car radio hissed to life and the policeman holds his hand up again to stop Richard's explanation:
'HQ to Unit 3, Code 7, 3 VC on A606 at junction with Manor Lane in Barleythorpe - proceed immediately to assist Unit 5, sending Unit 1 and Unit 2 as backup - known injuries and fatalities - ambulance has been dispatched - you copy, over?'
Officer Davis reached for the mike, and glanced at his partner; who nodded his approval.
"Roger HQ - we copy."
The policeman jumped out of the car and opened the door for Richard.
"Well Sir - looks like it's your lucky day - off you go. Drive slow."
Richard got out of the car, the policeman slammed the door, jumped in the drivers’ seat, turned on his siren and spun gravel as he sped to the accident.
Sergeant Gray turned off his siren and lights and slowed to a sedate speed. He turned to Davis and said. "OK what now?"
Surprisingly for a junior officer, Davis had taken charge of the situation. "There was little else we could do", he said. “Once he took off, it was obvious he'd seen us and we had to throw him off the scent by stopping him for speeding. Now, with any luck he won't think we were tailing him and since you were the principal contact, I can carry on following him. The bug you put on his car will let us track and listen in to what they say far better than her mobile phone will. Besides - its battery won't last forever. When the department gets back to us with his mobile number, then we'll have that as a backup if the bug fails in some way. We can follow him from a much greater distance. Since they're heading north, we'll check in, get some different clothes and change vehicles at Nottingham. If they turn off, and bypass Nottingham, then we'll get the department to dispatch another car to us."